(Note: The fictional essay, or as I dubbed it the “fessay,” is my literary invention. It is a grandchild of the O. Henry stories highlighting grim labor conditions and a cousin of Art Buchwald’s comedy sketches where two characters discuss the news.)
[News Item: President Bush keeps trying to end debate on Iraq by declaring “I am the decider” or “I am the decision-maker”.]
I have never been shy or retiring, but now I’m just shy of retiring. Yep, I’m so close I can feel the gold watch on my wrist already, clamping like a permanent handcuff. I’m not just nigh, I’m well-nigh. Four and sixty pages of calendar have turned on me, entitling me to social insecurity. Thin hair over a thick girth is not conducive to meeting a woman who will follow you through thick or thin. Bald dome plus weight that sticks do not add up to domestic. In the past I did not crave a tension. But now… who will dote on me in my dotage?
The situation called for urgent measures, and not of my waistline. The committee of angels and demons met inside my head, producing a rare unanimous resolution: time to get hitched. There was one hitch; I had no candidate handy. I knew no women at all in my chosen field of trash removal and ignorance cannot bring bliss. Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, a matchless match. Off I went to find me a companion for my reclining years.
Nothing personal, you understand, but the personals in the paper do nothing for me: networking for losers. Now I needed them to do something for me. I began to add ads, some somber and sober, a few flighty and flirty. I even tried the pina colada one from the song, but instead of luscious women I got lushes. The worst gold-digger is the kind who does her digging with a swizzle stick. The matter of money loomed too large over matrimony. Why was the fair sex so unfair?
Then daylight dawned with an aurora that would never bore Alice. My balance was skewed, too cute in fact. I was going about things the wrong weigh. This prim motif was backwards. Why approach women with my principles and interests? That was unprofitable. Better to make them show their hand, by reading the ads they place. I turned over a new leaf of the newspaper and scanned the women-for-men. There, by a show of hands, a roomful of ladies were appealing to mankind for a kind man.
They all claimed hominess and disclaimed homeliness. Heart, hearth and heartiness were featured; they picketed for white picket fences and mooned about strolls in moonlight. But one stood out from the rest, irresistible: DWF, 50, tired of men who need to be committed but aren’t, seeks king for her castle.
“My husband must be a king who rules with a firm hand,” she said demurely over dinner; who was I to demur? Those words were music to my ears, both classical and rock. She answered my specs in the earthier categories, too, so the timeline from courtship to kingship was not overlong. I hied to be affianced without high finance.
Shortly after my coronation, we sat of an evening, me with a paper and she with a magazine, the very picture of bucolic compatibility.
“Honey,” she said. “I am reading my magazine and thinking of you.”
“Sweetheart, you are shining in my thoughts too. And glowing in my heart. And burning in my soul.”
“You are my poet king,” she said. “Everything you say is so beautifully crafted and thoughtful, really majestic.”
“Thank you, bunny rabbit. You know how to make me feel special.”
“Darling,” she said. “There is an article here about that wonderful King Juan Carlos of Spain, and he reminds me of you.”
“Bless your heart, dear, what a nice thing to say.”
“Thank you, my sire. And he has such a majestic flair. No one can doubt he is royalty.”
“Thanks again, sweetness, for placing me in such grand company.”
“You are very welcome, milord. And I see here where he just bought the Queen a magnificent fur coat. Now that is how a king behaves.”
Shortly thereafter, she and I were checking our coats as we entered the King’s Ransom restaurant. As she handed the new chinchilla to the hat check girl, she murmured: “My husband bought that for me. Isn’t he wonderful?”
“You mean he did that on his own, without you asking?”
“Oh, yes,” my wife replied. “My husband is the decision-maker.”